Web-Store Experiences Fail The Test

In the previous three posts, I examined interactions in a single channel. But we all know that consumers use multiple channels. That’s why our research also examines multichannel interactions. In this post, I’ll look at some recent research on Web-store experiences.

Web-Store Cross Channel Interactions

In a survey of nearly 5,000 US consumers, we found consumers using multiple channels. Here’s some of what they do when they’re shopping online:

  • 37% call a phone number they found on the site
  • 34% print out information to bring into a store

In addition to analyzing the consumer data, we also evaluated Web-Store cross channel experiences for both electronics retailers (Best Buy, Circuit City, RadioShack, and Wal-Mart) and department stores (JC Penney, Kohl’s, Macy’s, and Sears).

For each of the 8 firms, we tried to accomplish a user goal along two paths: one that started on the Web and then continued in the store and another that started in the store and then continued online. Our channel transition review evaluates the experience against six criteria that get scored from -2 (severe failure) to +2 (best practice), so total scores can range from -12 to +12. We consider +6 a passing score. Here are some of the findings from those evaluations:

  • None passed: Scores ranged from +3 (Best Buy) to -9 (Macy’s)
  • Electronics firms (average: -1.5) did better than department stores (average: -5.5)
  • The firms struggled with most of the six criteria:
    • 1. Can the user complete her goal in all required channels?
      (5 passed/3 failed)
    • 2. Can the user control how he interacts with the company?
      (3 passed/5 failed)
    • 3. Is information consistent across all channels?
      (only Radio Shack passed)
    • 4. Is language consistent across all channels? 
      (3 passed/5 failed)
    • 5. Is the user presented with a clear transition path across channels?
      (only Best Buy passed)
    • 6. Is the user’s context preserved across channels?
      (only Radio Shack passed)
  • A couple of recommendations: Make it easy to print out product pages (to bring with them to the store) and provide a clear product number on price tags (to find the same product online when they go home). 

The bottom line: Most companies’ Web teams and store/branch operations live in completely separate parts of the organization. But customers will not accept that as a good excuse for broken experiences. To improve these cross-channel experiences, firms need to create a cross-functional team that incorporates key people from the stores and from the Web.

Written by 

I am an experience management transformist, helping organizations improve business results by engaging the hearts and minds of their customers, employees, and partners. My "job" is Head of the Qualtrics XM Institute. The Institute is still being established, but our goal is to help organizations around the world thrive by mastering Experience Management (XM). As part of this focus, I examine strategy, culture, interaction design, customer service, branding and leadership practices. And, as many people know, I love to speak about these topics in almost any forum. Prior to joining Qualtrics, I was managing partner of Temkin Group (leading CX research, advisory, and training firm), co-founder and chair of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA.org), and a VP at Forrester Research. I'm a fanatical student of business, so this blog provides an outlet for sharing insights from my ongoing educational journey. Check out my LinkedIn profile: www.linkedin.com/in/brucetemkin

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